Trade at Andrews, Marlborough’s master butchers occupying the site in the High Street that has been the home of a butchers shop since 1878, has been boosted 10 per cent since the horse meat scandal swept the country.
And it is likely to go higher as people realise the extent of the fraudulent identification of products being sold in supermarkets and that supplied to restaurants, hospitals and schools.
“If I did that I would be in prison straight away,” Andy Ayris, who bought the established business 18 months ago and owns two other shops, told Marlborough News Online. “Thank goodness they’re now arresting people.”
“It’s the sheer criminality of it, changing what’s on the label of products. And it’s not so much that people are upset because they are eating horse. It’s the packaging and false labels that annoys them.”
“That’s why we’ve gained a lot more new customers, 10 per cent so far. We have gained their confidence because we can identify what we’re selling. It’s all from local farms. I can even tell you the slaughterman’s name.”
Andy, who was a slaughterman earlier in his career, opens the door of his giant fridge and invites me in, displaying sides of seductive-looking beef with full identification tags on it.
“People can have total confidence,” he insisted. “We don’t take meat out of a box, only off the bone of the carcass. Everything has got a name on it, there’s full traceability, even tells you where it was killed.”
But it is not only the cheating taking place on consumers that is on his agenda. He worries too about the future of farmers who have gone out of business because of unscrupulous suppliers “nailing down” prices.
He seeks out grass-fed cattle farms locally, such as Robert Gay at Shrivenham, where he can buy his meat knowing it is of the highest quality.
But what about the increased cost in time of austerity?
“That’s nonsense,” declared 48-year-old Andy. “Have what is quality. And eat less of it. That’s where obesity comes in. Gluttony is another world you could use.”
“Eat less and eat quality. That’s what it is all about, the quality and the flavour.”
And with a laugh, he admitted: “I’m a big lad anyway. That’s the nature of the job. People don’t trust a skinny butcher.”
Meanwhile, Andy needs to add to his staff of four in the High Street.
“I’m looking for a trainee butcher and a full-time butcher as well. We had one good lad but he’s gone off in the chef side of the business.”
“It’s hard work, it’s manual work because we’re traditional butchers and you do become skilled at it. And it’s a job for life. Yes, indeed, you never go hungry as a butcher.”
Waitrose to create its own unit to produce frozen meat products
Waitrose announced today (Saturday) that it will be building its own UK capability to produce a range of frozen meat products.
The new unit is planned to be operational within the next three months and will be based at Dovecote Park’s state of the art facility in Yorkshire.
Dovecote Park has been exclusively supplying Waitrose since 1997 with high quality fresh beef products including fresh burgers, steaks and joints. All the beef processed by Dovecote Park is sourced from a known and trusted group of British farmers – none of the beef is bought on the open market.
In recent weeks Waitrose has taken the precautionary action of removing two frozen meat products, beefburgers and meatballs – not produced by Dovecote Park – from its branches.
The frozen beef burgers were put back on sale after tests confirmed that the meat in the product was 100 per cent beef. More recently, one test on frozen meatballs showed that the meat in them was, as it should be, 100 per cent beef.
However, another test indicated there may be some pork in some of the meatballs and the product was therefore taken off sale. Neither frozen beef burgers nor frozen meatballs tested positive for horsemeat.
Mark Price managing director commented: “Our customers rightly expect the highest standards of product quality and integrity from us and we won’t let anything stand in the way of our delivering this.
“Dovecote Park is a dedicated supplier to Waitrose. They share our values and our commitment to British farming so extending our joint activities into a range of frozen meat products is a tremendously positive move.”